A tractor joins the protest at the Guadalajara airport. A tractor joins the protest at the Guadalajara airport.

Court ruling awaited in Guadalajara dispute

Landowners blockade airport to demand compensation for land expropriated in 1975

A 40-year-old conflict between Guadalajara community landowners and the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) is causing access problems at the city’s international airport, with wait times of more than one hour.

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In 1975, 307 hectares of community owned lands were expropriated by the federal government for a new terminal at the Miguel Hidalgo International Airport, but 41 years later the former owners are still waiting for the government to finish paying compensation.

Over the years, the ejidatarios have received several payments, the latest being 40 million pesos (US $3.2 million) in 2009.

They are currently demanding 2.6 billion pesos, according to a report by El Informador.

The SCT is waiting for a court to reissue a ruling on the case as one released last April was described as “unclear.” It ruled in favor of the community landowners, according to their president, Nicolás Vega Pedroza.

“This issue can’t be solved outside the law. We have to wait for the court’s decision, and whatever it determines the federal government will follow,” said SCT head Gerardo Ruiz Esparza.

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About 100 landowners from the community of El Zapote began blocking the entrances to two of the airport’s alternate parking lots a week ago, partially blocking vehicle access at the airport’s main entrance.

Passengers and business owners have demanded the government find a quick solution as heavy traffic is causing delays of at least an hour to reach the airport.

On top of the fact that authorities are awaiting a court ruling Ruiz has declared that his secretariat does not have a budget allocation for a payment to the ejidatarios, but if necessary it could make a special request for funds from the Finance Secretariat.

The secretary was insistent that nothing could be done without a ruling from the court. The matter “won’t be solved with blockades, and we won’t give in to pressure.”

For his part, the state’s Tourism Secretary of the state would like to see both parties “sit down together and negotiate” to avoid affecting Guadalajara’s ever-growing international business tourism.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Economista (sp), El Informador (sp)

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